When my lips are chapped enough to call for $10 lip balm and my vegetables are simply not fresh enough, I ask myself: where would the local baby-toting, granola-eating MILFs go? The answer is Union Market.
Usually at similar establishments I find myself on sensory overload. San Francisco’s Ferry Building, Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and New York’s Chelsea Market tend to paralyze me as everything looks delicious so I look in every direction other than the one I’m going and end up running into people and tripping over things. Am I hungry now? Do I need this jam and/or soap later and will it fit and is it a leakage hazard in my bag? I typically leave markets empty handed.
What I love about Union Market is you can sit down. Not only can you sit but you can post up. The larger stands like Rappahanock Oyster Bar have their own seating, and there is also a generous amount of general seating so you and your friends can pick up a variety of goods, share and compare hauls at the same table. It’s got the coffee shop vibe enough that you can bring an iPad and hang out and get some work done. You can get the coffee at Peregrine. The weekends can get pretty packed, so I recommend going during the week if possible. This is the kind of thing that coordinates perfectly with my irregular schedule. During the week you will also find some seriously cute babies.
As mentioned previously, we also recommend hitting a few birds with one stone if you’ve been meaning to try some food trucks. Curbside Cupcakes, DC Empanadas, and TaKorean all have permanent stands at the market, which can beat chasing trucks down. I think the food is at its best here too as they have more space to prepare it.
The District was recently mentioned in the New York Times as one of the “46 Places to Go In 2013″. In the article they mention Union Market and a shout out specifically to Rappahanock Oyster Bar. Since I don’t currently have funds for a trip to the Phillipenes, Union Market is the next best thing as it takes fairly minimal effort to get there and you can spend as little or as much as you want.
We also have a bit of a geek out at Union Market. Nearly all of the stands use iPads alongside the Square for their POS systems, online via a network of Airport Express’. A few have loyalty programs like Belly. It makes it easy to spend money, and then feel like you spent too much upon receiving your emailed receipt.
Union Market Must-Tries so you Sound Cool:
TaKorean is one of the popular food trucks, but can be hard to hunt down! You can catch them at Truckeroo or at their stand at Union Market. My boyfriend David works there a few days a week and he suggests trying one of each taco to sample all of the meats and dressings.
Red Apron Butchery‘s Gin and Tonic on Tap
Developed by JP Fetherston of Rappahanock Oyster Bar and Derek Brown of The Passenger/Colombia Room, this drink is pre-mixed Green Hat gin and homemade tonic. It’s refreshing, subtly herby, citrus-y, and local as it takes advantage of D.C.’s Green Hat Gin. Read more about Green Hat on their really cute website.
Righteous Cheese is interesting because of how it began. Owner Carolyn Stromberg crowd-funded the artisan cheese shop through Kickstarter. The staff is fun to talk to because they’ll make recommendations and explain what the “nose” of the cheese is. You can purchase cheese or sit at their bar for a flight pairing with three beers or wines. If funds and time are low, stop by the checkout area where they have small “grab and go” cheeses already cut and packaged at low-ish prices.
The Bottom Line:
Union Market is not where to get a bargain. Nor is it a ripoff. It’s a place to get quality, local goods at the appropriate prices. During the week, it’s a great hangout. It’s also fairly easy to get to. I’ve heard a few people say, “I haven’t made it down there yet!” but it’s less than a ten minute walk from the New York Ave. Metro stop. There is no excuse.